June is upon us — a month traditionally associated with weddings. I have no statistical evidence to support this claim, but it seems to me there aren’t as many June weddings as there used to be. If true, it may be because the NBA Playoffs now drag into June, and no prospective bride wants to risk asking the prospective groom, “C’mon, you love me more than the Lakers, don’t you?” Even if that question gets asked and he gives the prudent answer, the bride’s joy is diminished if all the male guests at the reception have retreated to the bar and are screaming “That’s a foul!” at a big-screen TV.
No matter what month the festivities take place, a wedding is a wonderful thing. It is an affirmation of love, a public declaration of life-long commitment, and — very often — good theater. After all, it’s an emotional occasion anyway, plus all the planning and preparation have further frayed the participants’ nervous systems. So, as a guest, you sit on the edge of the pew and watch the drama unfold: Will people pushed to the limits of human endurance prevail, or will a bridesmaid faint from the agony of not being able to hike up her strapless bra while holding a bouquet? Will the ceremony proceed smoothly and serenely, or will some bitter guest snort derisively in response to the officiant’s question, “If anyone knows any reason why these two should not…”
Oh, stuff like that happens, believe me. A few years ago I was at a wedding reception that took an abrupt departure from the script. The tension-filled bride said something harsh to one of her guests, who happened to be the wife of the groom’s Best Man. The woman pulled her husband out of the banquet room and into their car moments before he was supposed to offer the toast.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment in which I’ve been directly involved was at a wedding reception a couple of decades back. After the bride and groom had their traditional first dance, the plan called for a sort of Cash Dance with the bride. Male guests were expected to ask her for a few moments on the dance floor, in exchange for which they would slip her some paper money. It was said that this was a way of enriching the happy couple, but it struck me as being a bit primitive, along the lines of trading your marriageable daughter for a cow.
Against my better judgment, I was goaded into joining the line of gentlemen waiting for a faceful of her veil. My turn came; I tapped the guy on the shoulder, slipped some cash to the bride, and then tried to pretend that I knew how to dance.
I was not well-acquainted with the bride, so mere seconds with my arm around her waist felt like an awkward eternity. To break our silence, I offered this lame conversational gambit: “So. Is this the wedding you always dreamed of?”
The bride burst into tears.
Apparently things had not gone as planned; she blurted something about “pictures”. That was pretty much the only word I could make out through her sobs. I gave her a couple of feckless pats and mumbled what I hoped would be comforting words as I continued to guide her around the dance floor. At that point I would gladly have given her another $20 bill if I’d thought it would make her stop crying. I smiled nervously at the other guests, who probably assumed I had said something disgusting to her. Thankfully, the next guy in line cut in soon thereafter. He may have thought he was rescuing her, but he was really rescuing me. Come to think of it, I should’ve given him twenty bucks.
And you? Do you have a memorable wedding moment you’d like to share in the comments section? For those of you who attended my wedding and want to bring up the car fire across the street from the church, go ahead — I can take it. Just don’t mention it to my wife if you happen to be dancing with her.